History of Bastille Day

eiffel towerHISTORY OF BASTILLE DAY

Each year on July 14 Bastille Day is celebrated to commemorate the Storming of the Bastille in Paris on this date in 1798, an important date in the French Revolution. The day features feasting and fireworks, though the center of this celebration is the largest and oldest European military parade along the Avenue of the Champs-Élysées a wide boulevard that runs through Paris and is called la plus belle avenue du monde. Lined by high-end shops and eateries, as well as the Arc of Triumph in the middle, it is certainly the most beautiful avenue in the world that I’ve walked along. Bastille Day is celebrated around the world wherever French ex-patriots, people of French ancestry, and Francophiles live.

This year, American soldiers will lead the military parade down the Champs-Élysées in commemoration of the American troops who served alongside the French in World War I, which America entered 100 years ago.

The Bastille

The Bastille

The history of the event goes back to the to that time in France’s monarchy under King Louis XVI when he invited the common people to voice their grievances about high taxes and rising food prices, but fear of reprisal caused them to storm the fortress/prison known as the Bastille to seize gunpowder and ammunition and to free political prisoners. Shortly thereafter, France’s newly formed National Constituent Assembly abolished feudalism and passed in August the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, becoming a fundamental document of the French Revolution.

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History of July: Where do we get that name?

Julius Caesar

Gaius Julius Caesar

HISTORY OF JULY

The month of July was renamed for Julius Caesar, who was born in that month. Before that, it was called Quintilis in Latin meaning the fifth month in the ancient Roman calendar. This was before January became the first month of the calendar year about the year 450 BC. We currently use the more recent Gregorian calendar — recent as in AD 1582 — which makes use of Anno Domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord” counting from the birth of Jesus. As we’ve previously discussed, in this calendar Jesus was born curiously 4 to 6 years BC or “Before Christ.”

Julian Calendar

Julian calendar in stone

The Gregorian calendar was a reform of the Julian calendar which was itself a reform of the previous Roman calendar. The Julian calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar himself in 46 BC, where he added — probably after returning from an African military campaign in late Quntilis (July) — an additional 67 days by putting two intercalary months between November and December, as Cicero tells us at the time. This took care of some of the leap year problems. The Romans, after his death, renamed Quintilis to Iulius (July) in honor of his birth month.

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History of Canada Day

Canada 150HISTORY OF CANADA DAY: 150 YEARS

As the US celebrates Independence Day, Canadians have a celebration of their own this weekend, this year it’s the 150th anniversary. Canada Day (Fête du Canada) celebrates the anniversary of July 1, 1867, when the three independent colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into a single dominion. On that date the British North American Act, known today as the Constitution Act officially confederated Canada. While it was still a subject of the British Empire, Dominion Day as it was originally called (or Le Jour de la Confederation as the French would call it) marked this new beginning. It was renamed to Canada Day in 1982.

Canada Day is called “the birthday of Canada” but differs from the U.S. holiday in that it did not become separate from the British Empire until 1982 when it gained complete independence with the Constitution Act of 1982. And they didn’t have to fight a Revolutionary War. Nevertheless, Canada still enjoys its status in the British Commonwealth as a federal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, with the British Queen as head of state. So they get a Queen and live in the New World, something that American’s envy.

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History of the 4th of July: Thomas Jefferson

HISTORY OF THE 4th OF JULY: THOMAS JEFFERSON

Perhaps no one person is more associated with the 4th of July in American History than Thomas Jefferson, probably because it was his hand that penned the immortal Declaration of Independence.

As my friend Clay Jenkinson — who has been portraying Jefferson for over 20 years — says in his book Thomas Jefferson: The Man of Light:

“The Third President is the Muse of American life, the chief articulator of our national value system and our national self-identity. Jefferson was a man of almost unbelievable achievement: statesman, man of letters, architect, scientist, book collector, political strategist, and utopian visionary. But he is also a man of paradox: liberty-loving slaveholder, Indian-loving relocationist, publicly frugal and privately bankrupt, a constitutional conservative who bought the Louisiana Territory in 1803.”

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History of Independence Day: Was the Declaration of Independence really signed on July 4, 1776?

Declaration of IndependenceHISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE DAY

Independence Day or the Fourth of July celebrates the adoption by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, of the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming the severance of the allegiance of the American colonies to Great Britain. It is the greatest secular holiday of the United States, observed in all the states, territories, and dependencies.

Although it is assumed that the Continental Congress unanimously signed the document on the 4th of July, in fact not all delegates were present, and there were no signers at all. Here is what really happened.

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